THE­ATRE: DONNA, TINA AND CHER

It’s cur­tain up on the lives of Cher, Tina Turner and Donna Sum­mer… with mixed re­sults.

DNA Magazine - - CONTENT #227 -

MU­SI­CALS NEED a great plot in which our lead char­ac­ter must over­come ad­ver­sity while de­liv­er­ing a cat­a­logue of great songs. Stag­ing the lives of great pop divas, then, must have seemed like a no-brainer to pro­duc­ers.

Cher’s life can now be ex­pe­ri­enced as a Broad­way mu­si­cal, The Cher Show. Writ­ten by Rick Elice (Jer­sey Boys), the story fol­lows Cher­i­lyn Sark­isian through three stages of her life, with a dif­fer­ent ac­tress as Cher in each chap­ter. Mi­caela Di­a­mond (Je­sus Christ Su­per­star) is Babe, Teal Wicks (Wicked) plays Lady, and Stephanie J Block (Falset­tos) is Star.

Di­rected by Ja­son Moore, the set has a va­ri­ety show vibe and puts Cher’s fa­mous Bob Mackie cos­tumes front and cen­ter. Re­views have been mixed, but Cher at­tended an early pre­view and said that while she thought some parts needed work, she didn’t feel like “goug­ing her eyes out”. She told The Chicago Tri­bune, “I’m push­ing them to be more truth­ful about me. I’ve al­ready said so much about my life. It would be silly for them to come up with a Mother Teresa.”

Also on Broad­way is Sum­mer: The Donna Sum­mer Mu­si­cal, which also uses three ac­tresses to por­tray the pop star at dif­fer­ent points in her ca­reer. Ari­ana DeBose, who grad­u­ated from So You Think You Can Dance to earn her Broad­way stripes in Les Mis­er­ables and Hamil­ton plays “disco” Donna and tends to carry the show.

The 23 Sum­mer songs fea­tured in­clude

Hot Stuff, Bad Girls, MacArthur Park and the Streisand duet No More Tears, but don’t ex­pect to see a char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion of Streisand. In­stead, we get two Donna’s singing to­gether. Eurodisco pro­duc­tion wiz­ard, Gior­gio Moroder, who worked with Sum­mer, is played by Macken­zie Bell (Sun­set Boule­vard), adding com­plex­ity to the show with fe­male cast mem­bers play­ing male roles.

Sum­mer has not had great re­views.

A ma­jor crit­i­cism is the lack of drama. Sum­mer’s is­sues with the gay com­mu­nity, sui­cide at­tempt and be­com­ing a born-again Chris­tian are glossed over and would’ve added the miss­ing grit. Va­ri­ety called it “nar­row minded” while The New York Times said it was a “blight” on Broad­way!

On Lon­don’s West End, Tina: The Mu­si­cal un­folds with unique depth and gusto. First de­vel­oped back in 2016, Tina Turner her­self has been on­board from the be­gin­ning and, after open­ing this year in Lon­don, a Broad­way de­but is set for 2019.

Adri­enne War­ren (Or­ange Is The New Black) plays the lead, with Kobna Hold­brook-Smith as the for­mi­da­ble Ike Turner. Ryan O’Don­nell plays Turner’s Aus­tralian man­ager Roger Davies, who mas­ter­minded her leg­endary come­back.

Tina: The Mu­si­cal has the abil­ity to en­gage the au­di­ence with real roof-rais­ing en­thu­si­asm. Think of Turner’s cat­a­logue – Proud Mary, Nut­bush City Lim­its, What’s Love Got To Do With It? Pri­vate Dancer, We Don’t Need An­other Hero… and on.

Re­views for Tina have been pos­i­tive, with par­tic­u­lar praise for War­ren. The Guardian de­clared, “As bio-mu­si­cals go, this is as good as it gets.”

How long un­til Vir­gin! The Madonna Story, Lucky! The Kylie Story or Wig! The Sia Story hit our stages?

Sum­mer’s is­sues with the gay com­mu­nity, sui­cide at­tempt and be­com­ing a born-again Chris­tian are glossed over.

Adri­enne War­ren, ac­claimed for her work in Tina.

Sum­mer: The Donna Sum­mer Mu­si­cal.

The Cher Show.

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